Free Things to Do in Lisbon

No Charge! Free Things to do in Lisbon.

There are plenty of free things to do in Lisbon. Visitors can explore some of the city’s best churches, museums and gardens while not parting with a cent – ideal for those wishing to save money or traveling on a budget. There's no charge to visit St Anthony Church, which stands on the site where the city's patron saint was born. Neither do you have to part with any money to visit the Money Museum. How novel is that! The amazing underground Nucleo Arqueologico da Rua dos Correeiros takes visitors below the city and layers of history hidden from view. There's no charge to explore the opulent and exuberant interior of one of the city's most visited churches, Igreja de São Roque, located in Chiado. Its lavish decoration will wow and impress. Meanwhile, another church worth exploring is the unique Igreja de São Domingos, which endured two earthquakes and a fire but is still standing. If you feel like chilling out, nip over to the verdant Jardim da Estrela, a beautiful little park where you can stroll or picnic in landscaped grounds. Looking for an Instagram moment? Lisbon is punctuated with miradouros, purpose-built viewpoints that afford fabulous panoramas across the city that cost nothing visit. A rewarding way to spend a morning is at the Feira da Ladra, the "Thieves' Market" where it's possible to bag a bargain as you meander freely through the city's largest flea market. While the Museu do Teatro Romano in Alfama charges an admission fee, the adjacent ruins of an ancient Roman amphitheater are free to visit. And west out of the city but well worth the effort to reach is Parque dos Poetas, a sculpture park themed on some of history's greatest poets. 


Outside the City

An imaginatively conceived green space themed around Portugal's greatest literary figures and those of the Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking) world, the "Poets' Park" combines carefully landscaped grounds with works of art from some of the country's leading sculptors. The attractive park features a series of gardens dedicated to a particular wordsmith. Those to look out for include areas highlighting Renaissance poets Gil Vicente (1465–1537) and Luis de Camoes (1524–1580), and 20th-century greats Miguel Torga (1907–1995) and Fernando Pessoa (1888–1935). A lake, maze and children's playground offer pleasing distractions, as does a fabulous rooftop cafe that affords a wonderful view of the river and distant Lisbon, particularly alluring at twilight, when the the park is wonderfully illuminated.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: The park pays aesthetic homage to the country's most respected poets. The integrated amphitheater hosts music concerts.

Paul's expert tip: The park is located in Oeiras, west of the city center. It's very near the Oeiras Parque shopping mall. From there it's a 5-minute walk.

Read more about Parque dos Poetas →

The partially excavated ruins of Lisbon's Roman amphitheatre require some imagination to envisage how this 5,000-seat arena must have once looked, but it's still nevertheless worth a detour. Laid out in Alfama near the castle, the amphitheater is the only example of its kind in Portugal. Its foundations date back to 10 BCE and the reign of Emperor Augustus. The arena was expanded in 57 CE when the prestige of Lisbon as an important trading port grew throughout the Roman Empire. To be honest there's not much to see on site. Artifacts of value unearthed in situ are displayed in the neighbouring Museum do Teatro Romano, items that include a tablet with an inscription dedicated to Emperor Nero, and a statue of Silenus, the old rustic Greek god of wine-making and drunkenness and companion and tutor to the wine god Dionysus.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: This is the only vestige of a Roman amphitheatre in Portugal and serves as a reminder of a unique period in Lisbon's illustrious history.

Paul's expert tip: The museum is a paid-for attraction. Visitors to the theatre ruins, however, are able to admire the excavated foundations for free.

Read more about Museu do Teatro Romano →

Animated and noisy, Feira da Ladra is the city's largest and liveliest flea market. Its name translates to English as the "Thieves' Market", a nod to the long-running joke that if you're robbed in Lisbon one day chances are you'll find your property on sale here the next. In fact, the moniker stands for the astonishing array of curios and bric-a-brac that can be found among the many stalls spread over Campo de Santa Clara near Alfama district. Here you can find hand-painted lacquered tiles, theatre programmes, coins, old postcards, old gramophones, carpenter's planes, cast-iron door knockers and probably even a kitchen sink, among other knick-knacks. A seasoned eye might pick out a valuable antique or an interesting collectible. And if you're prepared to haggle you could take home a bargain. The tourism office at Rua do Arsenal in the Baixa can provide more information about this unique visitor attraction.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Open to everyone, Feira da Ladra is a quirky and memorable experience where you can spend next to nothing on something.

Paul's expert tip: For the chance of bagging a rarity, arrive early on the day, either Tuesday or Saturday.

Read more about Feira da Ladra →


Lisbon's hilly disposition affords some fabulous panoramas across the city's downtown and historic districts. Indeed, the Portuguese capital unveils itself over several hills and they all have at least one miradouro, a purpose-built terrace sometimes incorporated into a landscaped garden and usually served by a kiosk cafe. These public spaces are strategically located to offer superb views of Lisbon that take in national monuments and other buildings of note, and very often the River Tejo and the south bank beyond. One of the most celebrated viewpoints is the Miradouro de Santa Luzia, which looms over Alfama, the city's oldest neighborhood. Another fantastic spot is the Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara overlooking the Baixa. The tourism office at the Lisboa Story Centre can provide more information about these unique vantage points, at the number listed here.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Outstanding cultural and architectural features and very much part of the Lisbon experience, miradouros provide picture postcard opportunities.

Paul's expert tip: On clear days note the direction of the sun and time your visits so that your perspective is highlighted by a warm backlit sunlit wash.

Read more about Miradouros (viewpoints) →


Lush and verdant, the Estrela Garden, inaugurated in 1842, remains one of the prettiest of Lisbon's public green spaces. Attractive at any time of year, this diminutive landscaped park is at its most colorful and vibrant during spring and summer. Adding to its allure is a water feature teeming with ducks and geese. A waterfront cafe overlooks the idyllic scene. The garden is a popular meeting point for residents, especially at weekends when an arts and crafts fair unfolds through the grounds. There's even an occasional open-air library for bookworms to browse. The well-maintained lawns make perfect picnic sites while the adjacent adventure playground keeps smiling youngsters occupied. A refurbished 19th-century wrought-iron bandstand is still used today as an ad-hoc concert stage.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Cherished by locals, this verdant oasis is laid out opposite the beautiful 18th-century Basilica da Estrela, one of the city's most historic landmarks.

Paul's expert tip: The number 28 tram pulls up right outside the park's front gates.

Read more about Jardim da Estrela →

With foundations dating back to 1241, Igreja de São Domingos is one of Lisbon's oldest churches. But what is truly remarkable about this ancient structure is that it's still standing. Once one of the most impressive religious sites in the city, São Domingos was almost completely destroyed in an earthquake in 1531. Rebuilt to a degree, the great earthquake of 1755 all but finished if off. The church was resurrected in the 19th century but once gain suffered calamity when a fire swept through the interior in 1959. The damage was such that São Domingos was slated for demolition. However, architects and engineers decided to repair the roof and facade, but left for posterity the scarred and blackened interior, the result of extensive fire damage. It's the soot-lined walls and columns that make this free to enter church such a remarkable landmark.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: This free to enter visitor attraction stands as one of Lisbon's more unusual landmarks in that it has survived centuries of mishap and calamity.

Paul's expert tip: Look out for the sacristy, which survived the 1755 earthquake and the fire in 1959 and is the most complete part of the original building.

Read more about Igreja de Sao Domingos →

Bairro Alto/Principe Real

The non-descript facade of this church belies a dazzling interior. Founded towards the end of the 16th century by the Jesuit Order, the riot of carved, gilded and painted woodwork is extraordinary, as is the marble sculpture and Florentine azulejos (tiles) that embellish the design. But it is one particular chapel that steals the show – the 18th-century Capela de Sao Joao Baptista. Constructed in Rome by a craftsman who used amethyst, alabaster, lapis lazuli, gold, silver and precious marbles, the sanctuary is absolutely breath-taking in its intricacy: the mosaics depicting St John the Baptist's life remain as illuminating as the day they were set. The neighboring museum (entrance fee) exhibits a wealth of religious artifacts.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: A Lisbon visitor attraction that really is a hidden gem. The museum next door complements the interior but there is an admission charge.

Paul's expert tip: Look out for the scenes of the Apocalypse painted on the church ceiling.

Read more about Igreja de Sao Roque →

Incorporated within the premises of the Millennium bcp bank in Lisbon's Baixa (downtown) district is a museum the modest dimensions of which belie one of the city's great cultural attractions. Set beneath the floor is an amazing archaeological site layered with the fantastically well-preserved remains of Roman, Islamic and medieval occupation. Tangible signs of 15th to mid-18th-century human activity are also evident. The museum itself is an engaging mirror into the past with its exhibits of Roman coins, Moorish ceramics and other assorted artifacts from everyday life including rings, broaches and hairpins. But the real treat is downstairs. Here, deep under the city's streets, is a subterranean yesterday where among other sights you can gaze upon stone tanks built by the Romans to make garum, a fermented fish sauce. There's also an eerie 5th-century burial chamber complete with skeleton, and scattered building foundations dating from the 1800s.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Lisbon's fascinating history can be explored at this extraordinary subterranean cultural facility, with a museum placing the excavations in context.

Paul's expert tip: It's advisable to book the free 50-minute guided tour in advance either through the website or by phone.

Read more about Nucleo Arqueologico da Rua dos Correeiros →

The standout exhibit at this free-to-enter museum is a solid gold bar, on display (very securely) in a former bank vault that is now part of this fascinating cultural facility. Members of the public can touch and admire the bar, no doubt wishing they could take it home with them. It's just one good reason to browse the Money Museum, which chronicles the history of the minted coin and banknotes in Portugal and across the world. Interestingly, the museum is incorporated into the now deconsecrated church of Sao Juliao and its through the church that you gain access to the museum. Here you'll find rare and precious artefacts such as a early Chinese banknote made from mulberry bark during the Ming Dynasty. Also on display is a vert scare example of a US$2 dollar banknote printed in 1862 during the American Civil War.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: The Money Museum houses some world-class currency artefacts, rarely found in any other collection. And a visit costs absolutely nothing!

Paul's expert tip: Don't miss the subterranean exhibition that displays the King Dinis Wall, a remnant of Lisbon's medieval wall set under the floor of the museum.

Read more about Museu do Dinheiro →

Built on the site where St Anthony was born in 1195, this is one of Lisbon's most important church-shrines. St Anthony is the city's patron saint and is known as a matchmaker, protector of young brides, and patron of the lost and found. Though born in Portugal his missionary travels would eventually lead him to Italy, where he settled in Padua. In fact he is better known there as St Anthony of Padua. Originally built in the 1400s, the current church dates back to 1757, repaired after suffering damage in the Great Earthquake of 1755. The exterior combines baroque and neoclassical architectural styles. A statue of St Anthony holding aloft the baby Jesus stands near the entrance. Inside, visitors are greeted by a beautiful gilded altarpiece. The main draw however is the crypt, which pinpoints the very place Anthony entered the world.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Saint Anthony Church is a place of pilgrimage for Lisbon's citizens and stands as one of the most revered places of worship in the city.

Paul's expert tip: Next door to the church is the Saint Anthony Church Museum displaying artefacts relating to Anthony's life. A modest admission fee is charged.

Read more about Igreja de Santo Antonio de Lisboa →


Meet Paul Bernhardt

Paul Bernhardt cut his teeth as a press photographer in England before leaving the UK to settle in Portugal, where he has lived for over a decade, and where he started to focus on more...  More About Paul